How One Guy Made a Freelance Career Out of Building Furniture From Scraps

rendering of a modern living room with open kitchen
When Will Holman graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007 with a degree in architecture, the U.S. was on the cusp of economic collapse, and the job market was too. He did, however, find success and built a freelance career based on skills he’s gleaned along the way — what he calls “guerrilla furniture design.”

Slate reports that Holman’s new book, “Guerilla Furniture Design: How to Build Lean, Modern Furniture With Salvaged Materials” describes his do-it-yourself strategies, philosophy, and the history of how his career began.

Part how-to, part sustainability guide, the book offers readers a look inside Holman’s designs and how his convoluted career path led him to where he is. The book was released at the end of last month.

The culture of sustainability, upcycling, and do-it-yourselfing has been growing in the United States for some time. The rise of sites like Etsy, which calls itself a marketplace for people to buy and sell unique goods, and Pinterest, which is filled with crafty, clever DIY projects, points to the shift of American appreciation to handmade and sustainable goods.

Holman fits right in here, and with a number of other entrepreneurs who have carved out a niche for themselves in the new DIY and sustainable realm of retail. There are over 1.4 million sellers on Etsy.

Holman’s furniture is constructed of things like scraps of wood, cardboard, and old license plates.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in January about the emergence of the pallet furniture trend and the way more and more furniture makers are finding a lucrative market for handmade goods. Amish furniture, which is often completely handmade and constructed from 100% wood, is finding a new, appreciative audience.

Forbes reported last fall that 34% of the overall population in the U.S., or about 53 million Americans, are freelancers. However, 14.3 million of these workers are “moonlighters,” or people who work full-time but still have a gig on the side.

This is how it began for Holman, who puts his many skills to work in his freelance furniture design career.

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